Talk on 18th-Century Cottenera – A Vibrant ‘Smart City’

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Talk on 18th-Century Cottenera - A Vibrant 'Smart City'’18th Century Cottonera: A Vibrant “Smart City” Open to the World,’ is the title of a talk to be given by Professor Carmel Vassallo, Head of the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies within the Faculty of Arts and Coordinator of the Mediterranean Maritime History Network.

Faced with a decline in traditional areas of operation in the East in the second half of the 17th Century, the communities around Malta’s harbours looked around for fresh pastures where they could apply their spirit of enterprise, capital and labour. They found these opportunities to the West, joining Jews, Armenians, Greeks and others in profiting from Western Europe’s Atlantic-centred ‘Big Bang’. They were vibrant ‘smart’ cities open to the world.

This presentation will lodge the Maltese entrepreneurial network within its wider context and go on to show that the towns of the Cottonera area, but particularly Senglea (L-Isla) and Cospicua (Bormla), were the hub of Early-Modern Malta’s commerce.

In the mid-eighteenth century, 42% of Senglean men were away trading or serving in foreign navies. In 1745-1746, 66% of merchants returning from Spain were from Senglea or Cospicua. In 1791 these two towns accounted for 77% of the Maltese in Cadiz, Europe’s point of entry for the all-important gold and silver from the Americas.

The talk will be in Maltese but will be accompanied by an English-language power point that should permit speakers of English to follow.

The event will take place on Friday, the 10th of May, at the Cottonera Resource Centre, St. Edward Street, Vittoriosa, (ex-Lorenzo Gafa Boys’ Secondary School Fortini) and will start at 7.00pm.

Carmel Vassallo is Coordinator of the Mediterranean Maritime History Network (MMHN) which is scheduled to meet in Barcelona in May 2014 for a conference that will bring together specialists from over two dozen countries who will present over 150 papers on a wide range of topics relating to the Mediterranean Sea.

The MMHN website is hosted by the Mediterranean Institute of the University of Malta and selected papers from MMHN conferences are published regularly in the Journal of Mediterranean Studies of the University of Malta. Carmel Vassallo is also Head of the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies within the Faculty of Arts and is presently also involved in the organisation of the 2nd Colloquium of Maltese-Spanish History scheduled for November of 2013.

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